No matter if you wax, shave, epilate, or trim, there’s plenty of room for error. Obviously, no one wants to deal with a trim gone wrong down there. That’s why learning how to use a bikini trimmer the right way is key.
“It is important to use a bikini trimmer correctly because shaving incorrectly with a razor can increase the risk of ingrown hairs and shaving irritation by harshly scraping against the skin,” says Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a Board-Certified Dermatologist in Miami. “Bikini trimmers are less likely to cause this problem because they cut the hair without the blades scraping against the skin.”
Meet the Expert
- Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Miami and director of the Skin of the Color Division for the University of Miami Department of Dermatology.
- Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, as well as an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell.
Hair and skin on the body is very different from hair and skin in the pubic area, which is why the region needs special attention. “Shaving pubic hair with the wrong tools can increase the risk of shaving bumps, ingrown hairs, dry skin, itching during regrowth, redness and irritation,” Woolery-Lloyd says. “In my practice, ingrown hairs in the pubic area are more common than anywhere else on the body. Patients find this problem both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Using a comprehensive approach is a good way to help reduce the risk of common shaving concerns. It is important to use products that prep, protect, shave and maintain healthy skin in sensitive areas like the pubic area.”
A common mistake that Woolery-Lloyd sees is sharing someone else's razor, a major no-no. “Some people feel like they can use their partner's beard/face trimmer on the pubic area but that is not the case,” she warns. “Pubic hair is generally coarser and needs a trimmer designed for that type of hair.”
To get the cleanest bikini line in the safest way possible, we turned to dermatologists to share exactly how to use a bikini trimmer.
Prep Your Skin
Getting your skin ready before you whip out your bikini trimmer is key to minimizing the potential for friction or irritation of the skin. “Typically, this is best done by gently cleansing the skin and keeping the hairs damp, which helps soften the hairs,” Garshick says. “For someone prone to breakouts and ingrowns, it may help to use an antibacterial wash to reduce potential bacteria, such as a benzoyl peroxide wash like Panoxyl, or other antibacterial washes like Betadine Surgical Scrub or Hibiclens. Additionally, exfoliating with a gentle exfoliant prior to trimming can be helpful to eliminate dead skin cells and this can be done by using a salicylic acid containing cleanser, such as Neutrogena Acne Body Wash or CeraVe SA Cleanser.” Be sure to avoid harsh scrubs, though, as they can irritate the skin.
Those prone to ingrown hair will especially benefit from gentle exfoliation. “Venus for Pubic Hair & Skin Smoothing Exfoliant is a great option because it contains gentle exfoliating particles to help smooth the skin,” Woolery-Lloyd says. “It also doesn't have ingredients like added fragrance and dye which can sometimes be irritating in sensitive areas. It can be used prior to shaving but also in between shaves to help prevent ingrown hairs.”
Use the Right Bikini Trimmer For You
Having the right tools is essential. That’s why Woolery-Lloyd suggests looking for a bikini trimmer with a guard that protects the skin from irritation, since trimmers that have blades that scrape directly against the skin increase the risk of irritation and ingrown hairs.
“It can be helpful to look for a trimmer that has an attachment specifically designed for the bikini area, given the skin is more sensitive and the angles can make it more challenging,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “If space is a concern, it can be helpful to find one that is compact and cordless, making it easy to use and store. Some are waterproof, making it easy to use in the shower. Some may also have an LED light to better visualize the hairs.”
Woolery-Lloyd’s favorite bikini trimmer is the Venus for Pubic Hair & Skin Gentle Trimmer (she is a spokesperson for the brand) because it's compact and easy-to-use. “It can be used in the shower, making it convenient because most people shave while in the shower,” she says. “It is also specifically designed for thick hair."
Garshick’s pick is the Philips Bikini Perfect Women’s Rechargeable Electric Trimmer. “This easy-to-use trimmer can be used wet or dry, giving the option to use in or out of the shower,” she says. “The different attachments help ensure that the hair is removed precisely and safely.”
Another of her go-to’s is the Panasonic Bikini Shaper and Trimmer for Women, which is particularly good for those with sensitive skin. It uses a stainless-steel blade and is lightweight, making it easy to use and maneuver even in hard-to-reach areas. Another bonus: It’s cordless, hence great for travel or on-the-go.
Read the Instructions Carefully
How to use a bikini trimmer varies from model to model. “Some trimmers may recommend use on dry hair, so be sure to follow the label and use as directed,” Dr. Garshick says. “Some trimmers may be used with shaving cream, in which case shaving cream should be applied prior to use as it minimizes the potential friction which can otherwise lead to irritation.”
Go With the Grain
“While going against the grain or growth of the hair may seem to result in a more effective trim, it is recommended to trim the hairs in the direction of the hair growth, as opposed to against the grain, to minimize the potential for ingrown hairs and razor bumps,” Dr. Garshick says. Additionally, be sure to avoid going in multiple different directions, since this can be irritating.
Treat Your Skin Afterwards
Rinse the area thoroughly and pat dry, and then apply a post-shave topical product to reduce irritation and discomfort. “It is best to apply a gentle non-comedogenic moisturizing cream or lotion, such as Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion or Dove Body Love Sensitive Care Body Lotion to the skin to help soothe the skin without leading to breakouts,” Dr. Garshick says.
Dr. Woolery-Lloyd explains that post-shave products help to restore the skin barrier and keep the skin moisturized. “Also, if you are prone to shaving irritation, avoid tight fitting clothes right after shaving that could irritate the area,” she adds.
Clean the trimmer
One of the most common mistakes is not keeping the trimmer tidy. “Choosing a trimmer that is easy to clean regularly is important to prevent possible infection,” Woolery-Lloyd says.
To ensure it’s ready to go for next time, it’s best to clean the bikini trimmer immediately after each use and change the blade if necessary. “People often forget to clean or replace their blades, which can impact the efficacy, make it more uncomfortable and contribute to irritation or infections,” Garshick says.